U.S. non-party status to UNCLOS is impairing its ability to conduct maritime interdiction operations to combat drug trafficking
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The United States could use the provisions of UNCLOS effectively to combat excessive maritime claims, which can interfere with narcotics interdiction and other law enforcement efforts. Several critical coastal states continue to claim territorial seas of 200 nautical miles, in violation of the convention’s 12-nm limit. These countries see our law enforcement operations in their claimed territorial seas as violations of their sovereignty and are either reluctant or refuse to cooperate with proposed actions against vessels engaged in drug-smuggling that are interdicted in these disputed areas.
Since we are not yet party to UNCLOS, it is very difficult for us to credibly argue that they must give up these excessive claims. The result is that counter-drug bilateral agreements with these nations are difficult, interdiction efforts in their claimed territorial seas are hampered, and our negotiating ability to change the situation is compromised.